Extraordinary Team Blog

Whiteboard Markers Don’t Cause Brain Damage

Posted by Kristin Arnold on August 20, 2009

Fortune Magazine once posed one of their all-time “Great Questions of Our Age: Do whiteboard markers cause brain damage?”  The short answer is “no…unless they are purposely misused over a long time.”  Hmmm…so an occasional whiff of your fruit-scented “Mr. Sketch” marker is okay (one of my favorite team activities is to guess the scent of the turquoise marker!); however, routine huffing or snorting markers during your meeting breaks will send you to the Employee Assistance Counselor!

Other factoids you should know when playing with markers:

Use the Right Marker.  It seems intuitively obvious to use a whiteboard marker on whiteboards, transparency markers on transparencies, and watercolor markers on flip charts.  Often, we just grab any old marker and begin to draw.  Be careful when using permanent markers on flip charts; they tend to bleed through the paper and leave nasty marks on your boss’s new wallpaper.

Clean Up ASAP.  When you use the wrong marker, it’s generally not a problem unless you use a permanent marker on a whiteboard.  Quickly grab a dry erase marker and draw all over the permanent marker boo-boo.  (This will lift off most of the permanent ink.)  Then take your whiteboard cleaner and wash the board.  If you still have some remaining tough spots, use rubbing alcohol or an all purpose remover such as “Oops!” (available at any hardware store).

Wash Your Hands.  Many of us come home with marker stains all over our hands.  Try “Skin So Soft,” hydrogen peroxide, or rubbing alcohol to remove those unsightly stains.

Remove Fabric Stains.  Inevitably, one of these markers will have a brush with your new shirt or favorite pants.  Before you donate them to charity, try using an ink remover such as “Amodex,” (www.worldpen.com/access/amodex.html).  Other treatments include using rubbing alcohol or non-flammable dry cleaning solutions (such as “Dryel”) for permanent marker stains; “Resolve Carpet Cleaner” (the people at Avery Dennison were very insistent on making sure that you use the pump spray formula) for whiteboard marker stains; and pre-wash treatments such as “Shout” for water-based markers.

Whatever you do, don’t put your clothes out to dry until all the ink is gone.  Once your clothes are dried, you and your teammates be seeing that ink stain for a long time!

Question:  Any other useful tips when it comes to whiteboard markers?

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